September 9, 2016

Creativity in Community

It’s amazing how much training students need to be able to participate respectfully in the class community.  Sometimes kids are “just joking around” and disrespecting each other, and they have to be reminded that what is OK amongst friends outside the classroom is not OK to bring into class.

My eighth grade French class was reviewing the calendar when a student suggested the “cute” answer that instead of Friday (which it was), today was Monday (Oh no oh no oh me oh my!)  Whereas I make a big deal of hating Mondays, I was nonetheless happy to see the creativity of this student in suggesting a cute answer.  However, his classmates were not as willing to roll with his creativity.  Some even went as far as to call him out with some funny yet insulting language.  It was time for a class intervention in L1.  Speaking in English is, to me, like putting savings away.  You can’t put your WHOLE paycheck in savings, but if you put aside a little, especially if you do that early in your career, over time it will grow and bear fruit.  I see L1 in the language classroom the same way.  More L1 use in the early months pays off with better-trained kids who are ready to be creative as a group.

Building group creativity is not for the faint of heart.  Facilitating true human connection, community, and creativity, especially in the upper grades, especially in today’s schools, is a tall order.  Doing it without ever using L1 just might be too much.  Give a little to get a lot.  It’s like saving for a rainy day.

In this French 2 class, we reviewed the calendar, then worked on a One Word Image of a teeny-tiny rainbow colored pig who is magic, but is sad because he only speaks English and does not speak Pig.  You will see me using L1 to discipline the class as well as to praise them for letting me know if I am not being clear.  Both uses of L1 are setting the foundations for important work this year – being a respectful community and making sure that Hargaden is clear when she speaks French.

In this Spanish 1 class, the OWI illustrates the important concept that Ben Slavic was so into this summer in all his workshops – the teacher needs to LIKE what she is talking about.  I LOVE THIS TINY EWOK!  He is small even for an Ewok!  So cute!  I am discovering that if you can get your kids to give you things to talk about that you genuinely love, the period will come to an end far quicker than you want it to.

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This entry was posted in Beginning the Year, Calendar, Classroom Management, Community-Building, Invisibles, Liking What You're Talking About, One Word Image, Uncategorized on by .

About Lanny Ball

For more than 23 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy and reading consultant in Northwestern Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on Twitter @LannyBall, as well as his literacy blog: lannyball.com or lannyball.blog.

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